Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Predicting Employment for Students Who Leave Special Education High School Programs

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Predicting Employment for Students Who Leave Special Education High School Programs

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT: A hierarchical regression analysis featuring 35 community, family, student, and school program characteristics, entered in a controlled order, was used to assess prediction of employment. Results showed that personal characteristics (especially being male and having living skills and academic skills) dominated the perfection of postschool employment. Family income, our proxy for socioeconomic status, also contributed significantly to this prediction. School programs had minimal effect on postschool employment once student competence and family characteristics had been controlled (held constant) statistically.

Recent follow-up studies and selected research have identified factors that are positively associated with employment. For example, Hasazi, Gordon, and Roe (1985) reported that over half of the special education students who left school over a 5-year period found jobs as a result of a reported "self-family-friend network." Further, such employment appeared to be related to vocational training experiences, including part-time or summer work. Similarly, Wehman, Kregel, and Seyfarth (1985) noted that students who were employed after high school did not use a job placement service, but found jobs through family members or friends. In keeping with previous research, Heal, Gonzalez, Rusch, Copher, and DeStefano (1990) found that support provided by parents, employers, and placement agencies contributed significantly to successful job placements. Also, a good job match was claimed more often for successful than for unsuccessful cases. In addition, Heal, Copher, Destefano, & Rusch (1989) and Heal et al. (1990) found that several personal characteristics of students were related to success, including work quality, attitude, social skills, and absence of asocial behaviors (e.g., verbal aggression, noncompliance, and absenteeism).

Using individual skills, training history, and family-related involvement as predictors of employment, Schalock and his colleagues (Schalock & Harper, 1978; Schalock, Harper, & Carver, 1981; Schalock & Lilley, 1986; Schalock, Wolzen, Ross, Elliott, Werbel, & Peterson, 1986) found that former students with moderate-to-high family involvement were more successful on the outcome variables related to employment than were similar students with little or no family involvement. In addition, higher assessed skill levels and more semester hours in school (versus less or none) also predicted employment success. Further, D'Amico and Blackorby (1992) and Goldberg, McLean, La Vigne, Fratolillo, & Sullivan (1990) found that high school graduates were employed more often if they participated in postschool education or training.

Perhaps the most important current source of information about youths with disabilities as they exit from secondary school is the National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS) (Wagner, D'Amico, Marder, Newman, & Blackorby, 1992; Wagner et al., 1991). Through individual surveys and interviews, NLTS was conducted to determine how these students fared in terms of education, employment, and independent living (Wagner, 1989). Using the NLTS data set, the present investigation was undertaken to confirm and extend the findings of earlier studies. We specifically investigated the prediction of postschool employment status of youths with disabilities by personal characteristics such as age and sex (cf. D'Amico & Blackorby, 1992), intelligence and academic competencies D'Amico, 1991), and type of disability (Affleck, Edgar, Levine, & Kortering, 1990; Hasazi et al., 1985; Sitlington, Frank, & Carson, 1992). We also investigated school program characteristics (Capitol Publications, Inc., 1992; D'Amico & Blackorby, 1992). Hasazi et al. (1985) and Wehman et al. (1985) reported that vocational training increases the likelihood of employment. However, both analyses were potentially spurious, given sample size and statistical treatment. …

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